Sydney Highlights: The Top 10 for Grown Ups


There are so many things to see and do in Sydney! It is tough to narrow down the list of things to do but here are my top 10 Sydney Highlights:

  1. Sydney Highlights: The Harbour Bridge Experience

    view of the sydney skyline with harbour and boats in front at sunset
    Sydney Harbour Sunset

Yes, it is expensive. And you can’t take your camera which really hurts. But it is fantastic! I wouldn’t recommend it if you are scared of heights though – it is extremely safe and you are clipped in the whole time but it would be tough if you suffered from any type of vertigo. You can choose your time when you book. I would personally recommend sunset – it costs a bit more but it is absolutely worth it to see the sun setting over the harbour. A wow experience.

While you’re there check out one of the best views of Sydney where you can take your camera! Click here for a post on Seeing Sydney from Above. 

2. Sydney Highlights: Merivale restaurants

When it comes to food the Sydney best things to do list is often about the Merivale group. Merivale owns several restaurants and bars around Sydney. I have been to most of them and they are all fabulous. Each is quite unique in its look and theme but what they all have in common are great food and a fantastic atmosphere. Frustratingly they don’t like to take bookings apart from things like lunch time or 5 pm so you will often need to queue – but the wait is worth it. My two favourites are Mr Wongs in the CBD and Ms G’s in Potts Point.

3. Sydney Must do Top 10: Paddington Pub Crawl

glass of wine at the royal hotel paddington sydney highlights
Glass of wine at the Royal Hotel Paddington

Paddington is a lovely little suburb not far from the Sydney CBD and often included on Sydney best things to do lists. It also has a large number of lovely old style Aussie pubs – most of which now serve some great pub food. The area is quite small but you may stumble in the dark – there will be taxis easily available to take you around. Kick off at the Four in Hand and then head to The London. Check ahead on the London as they are famous for their bargain dinner evenings – particularly steak night. Once you’ve eaten there head to the Royal Hotel and right up to the top floor (there is a lift in the back behind the bar to save you climbing four flights of stairs) for their tiny rooftop courtyard with a stunning view. Then finish off the night at the Lord Dudley for a more English pub experience Sydney style.

Planning a trip to Queensland? Check out my post on 15 Fantastic Brisbane Boutique Hotels.

4. Sydney Highlights: Bondi Coogee walk

It is the most famous walk in Australia for good reason – the views are amazing! Kick off in Coogee at the Pavillion (also owned by my favourite Merivale) where you can grab a coffee to get you going for the walk. Then follow the path north. If it is a particularly warm day pop into the lovely and free Giles baths just past Coogee to cool down – or definitely stop for a photo.

cliff and coastline on the bondi to coogee walk sydney must do top 10
The stunning Bondi to Coogee Walk

You’ll then head past the cemetery with some of the best views in Australia and then the most instagrammable spot in Australia the Bondi Icebergs pool. Finish up in Bondi with a flat white and some avocado on toast.

For some other great places to take photos check out this great post on the 30 Most Instagrammable Places in Australia.

5. Top 10 Sydney Tourist Attractions: Circular quay ferry

view of the sydney skyline and the harbour bridge from a sydney ferry
On the ferry to Circular Quay

Don’t leave Sydney without getting on a ferry. They are a very cheap way to get a tour of Sydney Harbour. There are so many to choose from. The Manly ferry is one of the most famous routes but watch out for busy commuters. There is no such thing as a bad ferry trip but make sure you check times as some only run during commuter hours and during the week.

One of the great Sydney ferry trips is to Watsons Bay – read all about it in my post here

6. Sydney Highlights: Fast boat trip around the harbour

There are endless options for boats when it comes to Sydney harbour. The harbour is obviously one of the Sydney best things to do – it is just figuring out the best way to do it. You can and should take an actual ferry as per my previous point. However for something a bit different try a fast boat or a jet boat. If you head down to circular quay you will see several of them advertising heavily. Watch what you wear as at a minimum you will get spray even with some cover. Not ideal if you are heading out for a nice dinner after from a hair point of view! But you will bounce and rock around Sydney harbour – oh and give it a miss if you have any back problems.

7. Sydney Must do Top 10: The Fish Market

exterior of claudio's at sydney fish market
Sydney Fish Markets

This is probably Sydney’s most famous market and deservedly so. It is located not far from the centre of Sydney and very near Pyrmont, Darling Harbour and Balmain. Come here hungry! This is one of those places that is filled with both locals and tourists. It is a tradition for Sydney siders to hit the fish market very early around key dates such as Australia Day, Xmas etc to buy their seafood. As a tourist, I would suggest a weekday lunch or dinner.

display of balmain bugs and pricing at sydney fish market
Amazing fish on display at the Sydney Fish Market

Rather than eat at one of the restaurants go to the undercover section of the market where you can have any and every type of seafood you can imagine and then go and sit at the outside tables. Importantly you can also have wine. And don’t leave without trying Morton bay bugs if they are available – forget lobster this guy is the king of white fish meat!

8. Top 10 Sydney Tourist Attractions: Barangaroo

This is the newest Sydney best thing to do tourist site/suburb. Built on the edge of the CBD in a former wasteland area this spot has amazing views. It is still under development but there is more than enough there for an interesting visit. Many of Sydney’s top businesses have moved their offices to this area – so you have a mix of office buildings and more upmarket restaurants and then a bit outdoor space with more casual restaurants and tourist experiences. Read all about the restaurants of Barangaroo here.

I recommend starting at the Reserve (best reached by foot from Wynyard station) and wandering this area before heading south to the more built up section. This is definitely one to do on a nice day as you will mostly be outside.


9. Sydney Highlights: Fireworks at Darling Harbour

red and gold fireworks exploding over sydney harbour bridge top 10 sydney tourist attractions
New Years Eve Fireworks on Sydney Harbour

Sydney loves fireworks. LOVES them. They are literally on every second night – or maybe it just feels that way. Anyway, your most likely place to spot fireworks is Darling Harbour. They tend to be on earlier in the evening (although obviously once it is dark) and are more common on weekend nights.

10. Sydney Highlights: Glass of wine at Opera Bar

flute of champagne and plate of oysters with water and ferry behind sydney
Champagne, oysters and the ferry – perfection!

There is no better way to finish off any day exploring Sydney than with a glass of wine at the Opera Bar. Like the fish markets, the Opera Bar is loved by locals and tourists alike. The views are fabulous and the outdoor seating area is massive so no matter how busy it is you should be able to get some kind of seat. The wine list is long and there are lots of food options. They also offer up free water and sunscreen which you will need if you are sitting there on a nice day. A perfect way to finish up a day of visiting Sydney Highlights!

Looking to get out of Sydney? Don’t miss my Top 10 Sydney Weekends Away Post

And if you’re heading to Melbourne read my posts about my hometown here

Getting to Sydney

Yes, I am afraid it is a very long flight and there is no way around that! A stopover in Asia is often a good idea to break things up.

Check out some great flight deals on Skyscanner here.

The only way to make the 24-hour flight not a hideous slice of hell is to find a great deal and go business class! Skyscanner also gives you a good sense of business class prices.



Sydney Tours

Interested in taking some tours while in Sydney? Click here for some sydney tour ideas

Heading to Australia solo? Group tours can be a great option:

Just You Holidays Australia

Exodus Holidays Australia

Explore Holidays Australia

G Adventures Australia

Need travel insurance? Click here for a good deal

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Heading to Sydney? Here are the top 10 Sydney highlights you must not miss: from the Bridge Climb to a pub crawl through Paddington to Barangaroo #sydney#sydneythingstodoin#australia#sydneyaustralia#sydneytravel#sydneyphotography#sydneyfood#sydneybeaches#sydneyharbour#sydneyrestaurants#sydneyoperahouse#sydneywhattodoin#sydneybars#sydneymarkets#sydneyfireworks

If you click through on the links that appear on my blog posts around flights, accommodation, tours, travel insurance etc. I get a small commission if you end up buying on these sites. Just wanted to make sure you knew

Also published on Medium.

The top 10 Sydney Highlights for Grown Ups
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The top 10 Sydney Highlights for Grown Ups
Heading to Sydney? Here are the top 10 Sydney highlights: from the Bridge Climb to a pub crawl through Paddington to Barangaroo written by a former local
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The Boutique Adventurer
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